Muzzle Is Not a Bad Word

Some assume that working in a vet clinic means puppies and kitten appointments with cuddles all day long. The truth is that pets of all ages, sizes and breeds need to go to the vet. As hard as we try to make it an enjoyable and fear-free experience every time, some pets remain nervous and scared in the clinic environment.

Most people do not have a positive reaction to seeing a muzzled dog or when asked by veterinary staff if it is okay for their dog to be muzzled. Most people assume that muzzles are reserved for bad dogs, aggressive dogs or badly trained dogs. This assumption is far from true; a lot of the time, when muzzles are used in the clinic, it is for dogs that are scared or in pain. When dogs are scared, untrusting or in pain, they are just as likely as an aggressive dog to react by snapping or trying to bite. That does not mean they are bad dogs. Veterinary staff understand that a lot of pets are nervous at the clinic or have had bad experiences in the past that lead them not to trust us. Unfortunately, we are unable to explain to them that we are here to help, and it will be okay in the end. Is it a good idea to train your puppy or dog to tolerate wearing a muzzle so that it is easier for you or the veterinary staff to put one on if it is ever necessary?

You can do this with lots of positive reinforcement, rewarding your dog with praise and treats while allowing a muzzle to be placed on it. This may take time, but it is great for your dog to be comfortable with. This way, if the muzzle is needed at a future vet visit, it is easier to place.

You should never feel embarrassed, ashamed or disappointed in your dog for needing to use a muzzle. Muzzles are there to ensure the safety of veterinary staff and your pet. It is always best to be honest with your clinic. If you know your pet is nervous about getting its nails trimmed, getting injections or being handled by strangers, let them know so that the muzzle can be placed as a precaution instead of having a staff member bitten.

The most important thing to remember is next time you see a dog muzzled in or out of a clinic setting, don’t be so quick to judge or assume. Don’t stare or make the owner feel ashamed for taking proper safety precautions, and do not be upset with the clinic staff for requesting to muzzle your pet. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 613-542-7337.

Written by: Miranda Mathieson, VT